Volunteers rebuild home for Denham Springs family impacted by flood, dirty contractors
DENHAM SPRINGS - It was a wonderful homecoming Thursday for a family displaced from their home since the 2016 flood.
Teressa Bell and her wheelchair-bound daughter, Donna, have been through a lot these last two years. Now they can finally rest easy knowing they'll soon be moving back into the place they've called home for more than 30 years.
Bell cut the ribbon to her newly renovated home before they entered through the front door surrounded by family, friends, AmeriCorps volunteers, and Sen. John Kennedy.
"We didn't know we had so many friends," said Bell. "It's amazing, it's better than it was."
The home has been completely redone after it was torn down to the studs. Bell says about 10 feet of water took on her two-story home off Highway 16 in Denham Springs. The morning their home flooded, Bell says she got her daughter to safety by taking her up the stairs to the second story. They were rescued by boat from the top floor balcony.
Soon after the flood, Bell says she was scammed by a contractor who took all her FEMA money and didn't do any work. Then she was scammed by a second contractor, who promised to help her.
"I trusted him with my life and gave him all my money," she said.
Help finally knocked on their door in the help of charity. Bell was connected with The Fuller Center for Housing, a nonprofit Christian housing ministry and an AmeriCorps that worked on her home for weeks. The crews were at Bell's home for the reveal, along with Barbara Stewart, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that runs AmeriCorps.
"This is a special day just to see the excitement of the family," said Stewart. "They've been out of their home for more than two years."
There's still work to be done, but volunteers were celebrating the home and the family that will live there. The family hopes to move in soon.
"We're not just doing this because it's the right thing to do, we're doing this for Ms. Teressa and we're doing this because she needs us to," said AmeriCorps member Robert Stone.
Nearly everything the Bell's had was destroyed in the flood. Walmart and Target donated furniture and appliances to furnish the home.